Making Magic with Filters and Fairies

I recently had another great day shooting in the studio with Ajkun Ballet Theatre.  We had a pretty extensive shot list for the marketing needs of their upcoming 2013-2014 season. This image for their new ballet Midsummer Nights Dream was just released and is definitely one of my favs from the shoot!  We’ve had such a great response from it thus far that I thought I’d take a minute and explain a little about how we go from an idea to a shot in studio to the final image.
rachel neville midsummer nights dream nyc dance photographer
I really enjoy shooting with Ajkun BT; I’m given enough information to know what they need, but then am given the latitude to get my own creative juices going and really sink my teeth into their projects..  It always starts with a call from Artistic Director Chiara and with her shopping list of images and then her thoughts on dancers and what options we have for styling.  She also gives me key themes, adjectives and information on who we are targeting with the images.  For example, for this image of Dream, she used the descriptive terms ‘Disney’, sparkly and fairy dust.  Right away I knew we were going to be working with a composite image, so we needed to shoot on a clean background to be able to cut her out of it.
after photo final step filter tips photography
When Brittany Larrimer donned the costume and hair for this piece my ideas for the final image really solidified for me… I knew we were going to put her in an outdoor setting and add fairies around her.  Normally I like  to have the background selected before shooting if I know we are going to do a drop; it’s much easier to make sure that you have the right lighting and shooting angles while shooting.  I must admit that I didn’t have one selected in this case, which made finding the right background a little more tricky and time consuming. I did, however, know that I wanted her lit so that she looked a little ‘dewy’ with several highlights.
I often pick through stock images for backgrounds (would be wonderful if we all have ample time and funds to travel the world to source our own backgrounds…), and in this case I was looking for a wooded creek with some fluidity to it.
tips changing background photoshop
Once I had Brittany selected, she was dropped into the background and blended so that she fit. This means: smoothing any areas that would have been too sharp, adding shadows where they needed to be on the rock she was standing on, adjust the lighting on her leg so that it looked right, blending her skirt to see through it in places, and blurring the background appropriately so that it looked like she was shot in it.  Then I added filters to the background to darken it down and some pictures of fairies and dancers from previous shoots.  Finally, we played with some fairy dust (Photoshop plugin brushes I found with some Jigging and spacing on the brush), added some glow in just the right places, and adjusted the color on all the fairies and blurred them appropriately.  A few other small finishing touches on the piece and voila!
rachel neville dance promotional photography
I can’t wait to show some more images from this shoot, check back in here or on FB, I’ll share as they are released for use….
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